An increase in the number of laboratory-confirmed measles cases has been observed in Ethekwini and Umgungundlovu districts from July 2017. Photo by Drew Hays on Unsplash

An outbreak of measles has been declared in KwaZulu-Natal. 

An increase in the number of laboratory-confirmed measles cases has been observed in Ethekwini and Umgungundlovu districts from July 2017. 

“As of September 5, 2017, a total of 23 laboratory confirmed measles cases have been reported in four of the 11 districts in KwaZulu-Natal: Ethekwini (14), uMgungundlovu (six), ILembe (two) and uThukela (one),” said the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) in a recent statement.

Many of the cases are among persons aged more than five years, outside the age groups that were targeted by the national measles vaccination campaign conducted recently in 2017.”

Furthermore, they said, the majority of the cases were from the private sector and within communities that were hesitant to accept the vaccination for religious reasons.

“There have been concerns by some religious communities about the presence of porcine (pork) gelatine in the measles vaccine.”

They explained that currently, public and private providers in South Africa used the MeasBio (Biovac) vaccine. 

“(This vaccine) contains porcine gelatine but it is currently the ONLY option available in South Africa. The previous vaccine for measles called Rouvax (Sanofi Pasteur) did not contain porcine gelatine but it is no longer manufactured.”

Prior to the measles outbreak in KZN, there have been two measles outbreaks in 2017: the first in the Western Cape in January and the second in Gauteng in June.

Read The Mercury on Tuesday for more on the outbreak.

The Mercury